Becky, one of our South East London coordinators, explores the importance of choice and period poverty.
Pad or tampon? Cloth or cup?
Applicator or non-applicator?
Light, regular, heavy, super or maxi?
Always, Bodyform, Lil-let’s, Hey Girls, TOTM, Pink Parcel?
Feeling dizzy yet? The number of choices we women have to make to manage our periods is pretty astonishing when it’s broken down. And it’s not just once that we have to think about these things. The answers to these questions (and even the questions themselves) will vary month by month, and even day by day.
This month, for example, my period started one day before I went on a week camping trip. Of course it did. When I noticed the timing the month before I realised my usual products weren’t going to be appropriate for the trip, so I sent an SOS to some friends. They replied with advice on various different products that they’d used camping and how to use them. Cue decisions about products, brands, costs… Period admin. Not really what you want to be dealing with when you want to be planning a holiday. But really I was super lucky because I had one important thing available to me: choice.
Something we hear over and over again in discussions about period poverty is: but value supermarket products cost 23p. Can’t they just use those?
And it’s true. A pack of 10 maxi pads in a supermarket can cost as little as 23p. But the problem is that whilst those 23p products might work for a regular period with a regular flow on a regular day, how many women only ever have those?
How many women have never wanted super absorbent pads for the first few days so that they can change every 2-3 hours instead of every hour? How many women have never needed night pads as well as day ones, so they don’t wake every day hoping they don’t need to wash the sheets? How many women haven’t had to buy a couple of different products because one month they’re going swimming and they can’t risk bleeding in the pool? How many women have never wanted a tampon because they’re wearing something special and don’t want the pad to show? How many women have never wanted a couple of days with wings, so that they know they’re not going to have to deal with leaks?
Choice matters. Choice is the difference between managing your period and your period managing you.
It’s why at the Red Box Project we are and will always be so committed to providing young women with period products in a range of types, sizes, shapes, brands and absorbencies. Because all women deserve the chance to make decisions about what they need to live with dignity and in comfort, all month, every month.
Thank you for your help in making this possible. Your donations are so appreciated, by all of us.
*photo credit: BBC